DAMASCUS, SYRIA (04:00 PM) – The Republic of South Africa has decided it will downgrade its diplomatic status with Israel to the lowest possible level of diplomatic contact – that of a liaison office. The decision was made in protest against the US decision to officially recognise Jerusalem as “capital of Israel”.
The ruling party of South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC), has reached the decision during a party conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
“The ANC’s National Conference, the highest decision-making body of our organization, has unanimously resolved to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a liaison office,” adding that the resolution would “give practical expression to the oppressed people of Palestine,” and “will send a clear message to Israel that there is a price to pay for its human rights abuses and violations of international law.”
Proposals to downgrade relations with Israel to a level that would see the official closing of the South African embassy was already proposed in an ANC conference in June, but has now been officialised. Representatives from both the Palestinian Authority and resistance movement Hamas were in attendance during Wednesday’s conference.
A liaison office is a low-level and unofficial representative of a country’s interests that is not headed by an official ambassador, and is usually positioned in officially unrecognised countries. South Africa also maintains a similar office on the island of Taiwan, which it does not officially recognise as an independent state.